Freeze-dried food pouches are just about the easiest and lightest way to make delicious backcountry meals. Simply boil water, pour in the pouch, stir, and wait about 10 minutes for a tasty warm meal. They’re an excellent way to add flavor to any backcountry trip.
The main knock on freeze-dried meals is that they’re more expensive than DIY options. If you’re planning a trip that will last several weeks (like a thru-hike), freeze-dried pouches can quickly burn through your budget. But for the average 3-5 day trek, freeze-dried meals are an excellent way to pack lightweight, delicious, and convenient cuisine.
NEW MOUNTAIN HOUSE FLAVORS
Mountain House is one of the oldest and most popular backpacking food brands in the world. They’ve been making lightweight backcountry food and improving their recipes for almost 50 years. Mountain House recently released three new flavors – Biscuits and Gravy, Chicken Fried Rice, and Italian Style Pepper Steak with Rice and Tomatoes. Annie and I thought we’d give them a try, so we took them on our most recent backpacking trip. We really enjoyed the new flavors, so I thought I’d write a quick post to spread the word and share our thoughts.
BISCUITS AND GRAVY
Our top pick of the three new flavors is Biscuits and Gravy. Freeze-dried breakfasts tend to be too complicated for backpackers (needing a skillet to cook a powdered egg mixture for example). That’s why we love the new biscuits and gravy breakfast. It’s just as easy to make as the entrées (just add hot water), but it’s far tastier than any backpacking breakfast I’ve eaten. This meal combines fluffy buttermilk biscuits chunks with an excellent pork sausage gravy. It’s a hearty and flavorful way to start your morning (it could make a great trail dinner as well).
CHICKEN FRIED RICE
The Chicken Fried Rice entrée is also excellent. Annie’s not generally a fan of fried rice, but the flavor and texture of this meal was too good to resist. The Chicken Fried Rice pouch combines long-grain rice, chicken, and scrambled eggs, with a hearty mix of veggies - onions, mushrooms, green peas, red peppers and carrots. Annie and I weren’t sure what to expect from this meal, but our expectations were absolutely blown away. We definitely recommend giving this meal a try.
ITALIAN STYLE PEPPER STEAK WITH RICE AND TOMATOES
The Italian Style Pepper Steak pouch combines steak and long-grain rice with red, green, and yellow bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. This was probably our least favorite of the three new meals, but it was still quite good. The steak actually tasted delicious, which was surprising to find in a freeze-dried meal. Our main complaint was that we wanted more flavor out of the tomato sauce base. We felt that a spicy kick would really take this meal up a notch, which is why we always pack hot sauce. Still, it’s definitely a very good trail meal and well worth a try.
In addition to these new Mountain House flavors, we really enjoy some of their classic flavors. You really can’t go wrong with the Lasagna, Beef Stroganoff, Rice and Chicken, Beef Stew, or Pasta Primavera meals. Also, the Ice Cream Sandwich and Neapolitan Ice Cream make great lightweight desserts (added bonus: they make you feel like an astronaut!).
If you’re looking to cut down on cost, consider ordering your backpacking meals in bulk. The Mountain House Meal Bucket (12 meals) will bring your per-meal cost way down and you’ll get some of their best flavors. This is also a good buy for your home emergency preparedness kit.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra for lightweight trail meals that are ultra-convenient and incredibly tasty, I highly recommend checking out Mountain House’s three new flavors - Biscuits and Gravy, Chicken Fried Rice, and Italian Style Pepper Steak with Rice and Tomatoes. In my opinion, they're well worth the cost for the convenience and great taste.
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